Balance and the Elderly

Stephen D. Lasday, DPM Podiatrist Sarasota and Bradenton

Vestibular System

Your vestibular system is what helps keep you on your feet!

Many people are familiar with the “visible” signs of aging, but did you know your vestibular system ages too? Yup, something else to look forward too. 😉

What is the Vestibular System?

The vestibular system is a complex structure of fluid-filled tubes and chambers that make up part of your inner ear. There are specialized little nerve endings inside these structures that allow you to detect the position and movement of your head in space as well as detect gravity. In short, it keeps you upright and on your feet! 

These signals from the nerves of the vestibular system are VITAL to the brain’s ability to control balance in standing and walking. They’re also involved in controlling certain types of reflexive eye movements that make it possible to see clearly while walking or running. We are amazing machines! 

Now here’s the bad news….anatomical studies have shown that the number of nerve cells in the vestibular system decreases from about age 55. (Boo!) Blood flow to the inner ear also decreases with age. And all of this continues to gets worse with age.

This gradual, age-related loss of vestibular function can result in severe balance problems. You might first notice this loss of vestibular function when you start experiencing difficulties being steady on your feet, whether walking or standing. You might also notice you have difficulty walking in the dark on soft or uneven surfaces.

So, what’s a person to do to put their best foot forward as they age and stay securely on their feet? Tune in next week and find out!

If you are noticing anything unusual with your feet or are experiencing ankle or heel problems, Sarasota or Bradenton is the place to be! Please schedule an appointment with Dr. Lasday, Dr. Zdancewicz, or Dr. Goecker for a thorough and professional evaluation, either in our Bradenton Podiatry office at (941) 753-9599 or our Sarasota Podiatry office at (941) 366-2627.

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Photo Courtesy of Rαge